So it has been nearly 11 years since my last dog. My previous dog was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which you can see in the photo opposite. His name was Red Eclipse, named after an eclipse of the moon on the day we got him - and his eyebrows which looked like little red half moons (he was a tri-colour Cav as you can see in the puppy photo).
He died, early, from a heart murmur that got progressively worse as he got older. It wasn't bad when he was a puppy - he was obviously examined by a vet before we bought him and we had no idea that a relatively minor heart murmur would kill him well before his days should have been up. It is a common genetic problem for Cavaliers and it is horrible to watch one die from it. He was only just 7 when he died, and small dogs are meant to live the longest. I think they are superb family dogs, so friendly and happy, but I would always always make so sure that every generation of a Cavalier back at least 4 generations didn't die from a heart murmur or mitral valve disease (another common genetic defect). I couldn't see it happen again. From such an active happy dog, who used to go running with my dad and loved to do obedience and jumps in the backyard with me, he virtually became an ancient depressed dog within about 6 months. He was taking so many medications, had his lungs drained several times, and eventually, as a family, we decided to have him put down. He died the next day, before he could have the injections. I still feel guilt that I allowed it to go on too long, that he died himself, that I didn't end it sooner.